[GeoHumanities SIG] CFP: Extending GIS for the Humanities

Karl Grossner karlg at stanford.edu
Tue Oct 7 16:51:35 CEST 2014

CFP: Extending GIS for the Humanities 
A proposed paper session at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) annual meeting 
[ http://www.aag.org/cs/annualmeeting ] 
Chicago, IL; April 19 -25, 2015 

This session aims to help motivate a GIScience research agenda for GeoHumanities computing, with papers presenting humanities research that has encountered—and either mitigated or perhaps overcome—conceptual and technical challenges in using GIS software. Key areas of difficulty include the need for multivocality, the representation, computation and visualization of data which is uncertain in one or more ways, and the integration of spatial and temporal data. 

In recent years a growing number of research projects undertaken by scholars of history, literature, culture, linguistics, and fine arts are geographic in the sense of particularly concerning place, or having geospatial analysis as a principle methodology. Naturally this has led to the use of GIS software for both mapping and analysis in such work. It has also brought to the fore ways in which existing GIS software is deemed inadequate or inappropriate for humanist studies. 

Large GIS software programs, whether commercial or open-source, have come to their current form largely in response to needs expressed by particular communities within the domains of environmental and earth sciences, social sciences, government, and business. But geographical information systems in a general sense are not limited to such large packages, but are inclusive of an incredibly active open-source "geographical information ecosystem" within which some humanities scholars are able to develop their own software solutions. Elements of this system include software libraries for web mapping and analysis in programming languages (Javascript, Python and R) and geospatial linked data. 

Still, there are unmet methodological and technical challenges, and it is increasingly important there be a pragmatically-oriented forum for discussing humanists’ concerns and requirements with some specificity, in order to foster collaboration with GIScience researchers and practitioners. This should help considerably in realizing systems (or new ecosystem elements) more useful for humanities research than is currently the case. 

Topic areas that will be of interest for the session include but are not limited to: 
• Semantic computing: linked data, ontologies 
• Modeling, encoding, and computing over uncertain, sparse, or indeterminate spatial and temporal data 
• Visualization of uncertainty in maps and associated timelines 
• Modeling multivocality: “open-world” assumption in “closed-world” systems 
• Temporally-enabled GIS for data exploration and hypothesis formation 
• Quantitative tools for qualitative research questions 

Please send an abstract of up to 250 words to Karl Grossner ( karlg at stanford.edu ) by October 20. 

This session is sponsored by the Historical Geography Specialty Group of AAG and will become part of a recently announced GeoHumanities thematic track within the conference. 

Karl Grossner, PhD 
Digital Humanities Research Developer 
Stanford University 
http://kgeographer.org ; @kgeographer 
Co-chair, GeoHumanities SIG (a special interest group of ADHO) 

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